Melbourne duo Au Dre prove that their blend of maximalist electronica and 1970s funk, disco and jazz works on the riotous 'Cheap Champagne'
Melbourne duo AU DRÉ (made up of lead singer and trumpeter Audrey Powne and keyboardist/producer James Bowers) make music that, on paper, doesn’t sound like it would work. Their interpretation of contemporary, maximalist electronic music refracts the genre through their personal affections for the funk, disco and R&B music of the 1970s and 80s. But it does work, and they’ve pulled it off again on ‘Cheap Champagne’, their latest single to be taken from their upcoming sophomore EP, More is More.
The track, described as “a dark party anthem about bad decisions made after the initial bad decision of drinking too much bad Champagne,” distils both sides of Au Dré’s influences, leaning particularly into their jazz and hip-hop influences, but also boasting the kind of sing-a-long, sticky hook of a large electronic anthem. An eerie, rising soundscape precedes a riot of overblown, blaring synths, relentless bass and cavernous drum hits that, in all its inflated theatricality, perfectly mimics the loss of control, the impulsivity, the melodrama and the flitting emotions of inebriation.
For Pawne, as she explains, the song’s lyrics comes from an explicitly autobiographical place: “I don’t know how but the first time I went to L.A. in 2013 I somehow managed to get an invite to a super-rich exclusive party at some trust fund kids mansion in West Hollywood. I felt really out of place in my Dejour jeans but I didn’t really know anyone in town and had nowhere else to go. I quickly made friends with the first person I met there who also appeared to be lost in this world. We left to Moet and Chandon party, bought 2 bottles of $4 champagne from a dodgy liquor store and went to a dark studio to listen to 90’s R&B records until sunrise. All in all, an ideal first night out in L.A. for a girl from the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne”.
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She rides the chaotic instrumental with her breathy, free-flowing, idiosyncratic vocal style that almost borders on rap, all the while backing herself up with soulful harmonies. Beneath the riot, jazz piano chords and Pawne’s extended, improvised trumpet solo infuse the more bombastic elements of the track with the smooth, seductive aftertaste of neo-soul. But true to Au Dré's style, the trumpet is warped, filtered, lathered in effects to the point that it almost sounds inebriated itself.
On paper maybe it shouldn't work, but with 'Cheap Champagne' Au Dré have started a riot to prove that it does.